FT. WAYNE, IN— The Kalamazoo Wings used a three-goal third period to hold off the Ft. Wayne Komets and race to a decisive 6-3 win on Sunday night at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. The victory pushed the Wings back ahead of the Kansas City Mavericks for the fourth and final playoff position in the Central Division.
The Wings took advantage of a sluggish Komets’ team in the opening two minutes of regulation and went ahead with the night’s first goal. Using a relentless forecheck to swipe the puck in the attacking end, Tyler Biggs had the puck land on his stick in the high slot. Biggs looked up, spotted an open corner, and wired a wrist shot past the stick-side of Garrett Bartus.
The Komets came back to tie the game at one after Gabriel Desjardins roofed a short-side backhand. He carried into the Wings zone and flung a try from an acute angle, but it ramped up the stick of Michael Garteig and ended up in the goal.
The Wings re-established their advantage about four minutes later after a beautiful passing pay in the offensive zone. Jon Jutzi tapped the puck along the wall to Anton Cederholm, who zipped it across the ice to Jimmy Mullin. Mullin handed the puck along to Josh Pitt, allowing him to finish the tic-tac-toe play with his 27th goal of the year. Pitt’s goal closed out the scoring in the first, giving the Wings a 2-1 intermission lead.
Kalamazoo’s hot hands were maintained into the early minutes of the second period, and Pitt helped establish a two-goal edge for the visitors. Aaron Irving sent the puck to the net where a waiting Lane Scheidl drove it to the goal. Scheidl’s shot was stopped by Bartus, but Pitt crashed the net and wouldn’t be denied for his second goal of the game.
With under two minutes remaining in the second period and down by two goals, Ft. Wayne clawed to within one, courtesy of Dennis Kravchenko. Moving the puck behind the Wings’ goal, a Komets’ forward centered a pass to Kravchenko, who was waiting to one-time it past Garteig for his 16th of the year.
After a scoreless first half of the third period, Kyle Blaney put the Wings up a pair with a short-side wrist shot from an impossible angle. Blaney moved up the left wing side and was able to pinpoint a shot into a microscopic window for his 8th of the season.
Rumbling back to within a goal just 1:03 later, Garrett Thompson went to the net with his stick on the ice and cashed in on a loose puck during a net-front scramble. His 26th of the year made it 4-3 with under ten minutes remaining in regulation.
Using their timeout after the Komets’ goal, Kalamazoo maintained their composure and propelled themselves back in front by two. Working a cycle along the wall, the puck was freed behind the net to Mullin, who shielded it from two defenders, and passed in front to Kyle Bushee. Bushee wasted no time unloading a one-timer which flew over the glove of Bartus, making it 5-3.
Eric Kattelus put the cherry on top of the Wings’ decisive win with an empty net goal while Bartus was on the bench for an extra attacker.
Next: Kalamazoo vs. Brampton Beast- Tuesday, March 13, 7 p.m., Wings Event Center.
Broadcast information: Tuesday’s game will air on AM 1660 The Fan or online at www.1660thefan.com/listen-live.
Single-game tickets are on sale! Tickets start as low as $10 and can be purchased at http://kwings.com/SingleGameTickets or at the Wings Event Center box office.
Wings Event Center, owned and operated by Greenleaf Hospitality Group, is home to the Kalamazoo Wings professional hockey team and a full entertainment venue offering concerts, sporting events, family shows and trade shows. Built in 1974, Wings Event Center values partnerships with the community to bring events and attractions that enrich the lives of residents in the Kalamazoo area.